Thursday, June 24, 2010

In Defense of Dave Weigel

Full Disclosure: Dave Weigel and I are friendly former colleagues. I don't know about "friends," per se--but I helped him move once, with Matt Yglesias (!!) inter alia, and we usually exchange a few words when we see each other out. So, while this may be biased, I'd say much the same thing about journos I don't know at all or as well, like Ezra Klein, Spencer Ackerman or even, gasp, Yglesias.

So, there is an off-the-record listserv known as Journolist--not surprisingly, made up of journalists. Now, if there is a group of people outside of the government who better understand what "off the record" means, it's friggin' journalists. Yet, someone on the list has decided to leak an off the record rant of Dave's to a gossip site.

I think anyone who cares about their job--which would be a majority of the people I know in this town--is going to be upset from time to time with the work they do and the reactions to it. We are passionate people who moved to this city to, if you'll pardon the cliche, make a difference. Dave is a serious and dedicated journalist who is good at what he does--and is attacked by all sides for it. Beyond my personal affection for him, I respect the hell out of what he does and how he does it.

God forbid if any of the many off-the-record conversations I've been party to in this town were ever to become public. People share emotional responses to stressful stuff all the time. Some vents are rational, others are hyperbolic overreactions to a set of circumstances, often well-beyond the subject of a particular rant. Sometimes you're just so pissed you let loose a stream of verbal bile that would offend most people out of context--but is understood (or at least, forgiven) among your own. This is what, I imagine, Dave felt Journolist was good for.

He was obviously wrong to trust them, and shame on them for it.

Predictably, WaPo commenters are having a field day at Dave's expense--and I would bet in no small part because there are thousands of people who have "Paultard" in their Google Alerts just so they can pounce on any (virtual) utterance defaming the great and powerful Ron. Sigh.

The point is, we need more journalists like Dave and much less of the gossipy nonsense he's fallen victim to.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Dave Weigel did no more or no less than any other Washington Post reporter or any reporter on any given days. He said some things in private no worse than anyone else. The only thing different is that his emails became public-- against his will-- something that could happen to anyone.

Weigel was young. He was a blogger. He had a non-traditional background. No matter that he is a great reporter. That is the kind of guy who would be fired from the Post-- not the David Broders of the world.

Who keeps their job at the Post and other places?

Those who espoused the WMD lies of the Bush administration.

Those who have plagiarized.

And those who have engaged in unethical or sloppy journalism.